Saturday, January 13, 2007

All Work and All Play

...makes this girl very happy! Friday was an intense work day, filled with back-to-back meetings in which I met people with whom I’ll work on a regular – though remote – basis from here on out. The company I work for is actually located in the Bay Area, but because of our new contract with the Gates Foundation, a new Seattle satellite office was formed. So this trip was my opportunity to meet people in the Bay Area office with whom I’ll have regular contact, from administrative assistants to the CEO (who I like a lot and with whom I had a very pleasant conversation). It’s taken me almost two weeks to really wrap my head around this project, around my responsibilities, and around the anticipated intensity of the next seven months – after which things should calm down considerably. But the meetings (including breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings) yesterday really helped me to do that. And I love this position more than I ever even thought I would! How did the company know the job was perfect for me? How did they know that I was the right person for this job? I think my boss really trusts his instincts (I know – not very common among men!), and I like him even more for having that sort of approach! He’s the kind of person who gave me a big heartfelt hug when we met up in the Bay Area on Thursday evening. This job will take much heart, much energy and must passion and he definitely has that. He’s anything but a staid, distant manager; instead I see him as a partner, a mentor and a friend – and I think he might have hired me because he saw the potential for exactly those important qualities in me. I hope.

I’ve been so lucky to have two great managers lately. My previous boss and I have become dear friends – which has definitely been the best part of leaving that position. I credit her with not only my ability to land this job, but for the very positive minute-to-minute and day-to-day interactions I've had so far. In fact, in this new position I am constantly asking myself “WWDD?” (D is my former manager) and she is unknowingly continuing to mentor me in that way. Fortunately, she started a new job just a few blocks from my new office on the same day I started my new job, so we’ll be able to meet regularly for lunch. In fact, quite a few of us from the (sinking) non-profit for whom I used to work, now work downtown, so I have a feeling we’ll have regular get-togethers!

Today has been a non-stop play day as much as yesterday was a non-stop work day. After I had a chance to sleep in, my “baby brother” (ha!) picked me up from my hotel, which is just a few miles away from his house. As we headed back to his place, he told me about his recent dilemma (we should all be so lucky): after more than 20 years as a well-loved, innovative, hugely successful junior high school science teacher, he has been wooed by a progressive Gates-Foundation-like think-tank activist educational organization. They desperately want him to take over the helm of this wonderful organization – and he IS, I agree, the absolutely perfect person for the job. He has a completely unique perspective about education as it relates to business, as it relates to technology, and as it relates to innovation and positive activism. No, he doesn’t know Bill Gates personally… though he should! You’d think he’d jump at this opportunity, but it’s actually presenting quite a qualm for him, as he likes the security of classroom teaching (and tenure) and is apprehensive about “taking a chance in the nonprofit world.”

My take on his mid-life crisis is that it’s time that he make some brave new choices – for the sake of a much larger group of learners than 30 kids in a classroom. What he knows about teaching and education – both acquired knowledge and intuition – is phenomenal, and I think that it’s time that he shares his knowledge and his passion with a much broader range of both educators and students. The best way to do this, in my opinion, is by taking the plunge (even if it’s a bit nerve-wracking and challenges his acute need for stability) and accepting the position with the nonprofit. So bro, if you’re reading this, that’s my take on it. We NEED you in this “other” education arena! I don’t think you realize how MUCH the world needs educators like you to share your ideas, your passion and your knowledge! Believe me when I say to you that things DO work out – even without a big nest egg “just in case” (heck, we’ve never had one and somehow things work out). You might even find that making a bold move in the direction of the nonprofit is FREEING and invigorating, allowing you to broaden your horizons that allow you a different sort of independence and a different sense of security (consulting? self-employment?).

And who knows – you might like that new sense of freedom so much that you make other changes in your life that might have seemed scary when your measure of security and independence was more financial than personal and intellectual.

Enough soapbox stuff from big sis! The BEST part of the day has undoubtedly been the time I got to spend with my brother’s “four ladies” – his three adorable, wonderful daughters and his loving and emotionally generous wife. His oldest daughter, H, is amazingly knowledgeable about what I’ll call “the state of the earth.” At 9, she knows more about the necessity for social responsibility than most adults I know. She told me all about An Inconvenient Truth (which she watched at school!) and about the social and societal impact of Katrina and the ’04 Tsunami. And she and her sisters even baked cookies on their own to raise money for the victims of those two tragedies! Her little sister, A, is the most poetic 7-year-old I’ve known. She doesn’t write poetry (or maybe she does?!), but she speaks poetically – with a gift for stringing words together beautifully and for exquisite expression of her thoughts. And O – at 4 – is so absolutely SWEET that I just feel like gobbling her up – especially when she begs me, with a tear in her eye, not to leave. My heart just melts! And A, my sister-in-law…well, if only my brother’s family weren’t such sun bunnies, maybe I could convince them to move to Seattle and A and I could be best friends… because we would be!! I love her honestly and her warmth!

Lest you think I’d let TWO days pass without posting some pictures, here are a few from my day – O and her American Girl Doll (I’d say there are TWO “American Girl Dolls” in the picture!), all three girls (A, H and O, along with Bonnie the Beagle), H and A, showing off the handmade gifts they gave my brother for his recent birthday, the girls giving me a “spa treatment” which consisted of brushing my hair and massaging my head (yes, I WAS in heaven!!), and the whole wonderful family! I love you guys!

(Written from the plane, returning to still-snowy and icy Seattle.)

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1 comment:

vailian said...

Great post-- don't forget you wrote it; in about 6 or 8 weeks when the euphoria wears off somewhat, you can go back and read it and realize how lucky this org is to have you.

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